Kienle started the race with a solid swim that saw him exit the water with a deficit of 3:40 to the 25-man lead pack containing most of the pre-race favorites. However, the German had company in the chase group, thanks to fellow SCOTT athletes Marino Vanhoenacker, Luke McKenzie and Cyril Viennot. “I’m pretty happy with my swim,” said Kienle after the race. “I expected to be 3 to 4 minutes behind the leading men and I was lucky that I had some strong cyclists with me that helped to close in on the leaders.”
On the way out to the turnaround in Hawi, Kienle pushed hard on his Plasma 5 to close the gap to the leading group, making up almost 4 minutes in the first 60 kilometers of the bike leg. Kienle’s move put him back into contention among the leaders, and at the same time, it allowed Vanhoenacker and Viennot to close the gap to the leading group. Thanks to his efforts during the first 60 kilometers, Kienle immediately passed the front group and charged after Andrew Starykowicz, who had opened up a one minute gap over the first pack. With Kienle increasing the pace at around the 90 kilometer mark, the lead group fell apart almost immediately. Soon it was the German duo of Kienle and Maik Twelsiek passing Starykowicz, then leading the race and putting time into the chase group. Near the 140 kilo-meter mark, Kienle finally dropped Twelsiek and pushed hard through the final miles of the 180 kilometer bike leg. “After the turnaround point at Hawi I struggled for a while and was 50 to 60 meters behind Maik who pushed hard,” Kienle commented after the race. “Later on, we were riding at almost 75km/h with a strong tailwind. Pushing my biggest gear with a cadence of 130rpm I was able to gap Maik.”After scoring the fastest bike split of the day in a time of 4:20:46, Kienle led the race by over 4 minutes ahead of German Maik Twelsiek in 2nd and 4.37 over SCOTT athlete Marino Vanhoenacker. At that time, last year’s winner and pre-race favorite Frederik van Lierde was already more than 8 minutes back.
Kienle started the marathon fast. In the first half, he even extended his lead over fast runners such as van Lierde and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno. By the time Kienle entered the Energy Lab, he had built a lead of over 9 minutes. Despite running slightly slower than hard charging Frodeno and Ben Hoffmann, the situation remained unchanged when Kienle exited the Energy Lab and headed towards the finish. With a marathon time of 2:54:37 Kienle scored the 6th fastest marathon of the male profes-sionals and kept the chasers at bay. In a time of 8:14.18, Kienle crossed the finish line over 5 minutes ahead of runner-up Ben Hoffman and well over 6 minutes ahead of fellow country-man Jan Frodeno. “I chose a conservative strategy on the run,” analyzed Kienle after cross-ing the finish line. “I tried not to run too fast at the beginning and I saved a bit of energy in case something unforeseen might happen.”
While Sebastian Kienle claimed the first ever IM World Championships title in the history of SCOTT-Sports, other SCOTT athletes shaped this year’s World Championships in Kona on the recently introduced Plasma 5 Triathlon bike. Cyril Viennot again proved his ability to run strong on the second half of the marathon. He finished an excellent 5th in the men’s race de-spite having suffered a near fatal accident with a punctured lung and broken ribs in January that forced him to rest for several weeks. Jodie Swallow led the women’s field out of the wa-ter and grew the gap on the chasers during the first part of the bike leg before a penalty forced her out of the lead. Despite this early disappointment, Swallow hung tough and finished 4th in only her second effort in Kona.
All Photos: Michael Rauschendorfer